Want to know the health benefits of Matcha Tea? Read on and learn of the wonders this exquisite, super-anti-oxidant superfood can do for you.
“Alert Relaxation.” Together, these two words appear to form a contradiction. Alertness is associated with attentiveness, being ready to act, and inhabiting a state of vigilance, whereas relaxation is associated with ease, peace, and tranquility.
Being able to achieve an alert relaxation state can bring about considerable creativity and innovation. This concept of alert relaxation is precisely what makes Matcha tea so unique. It contains an amino acid called L- theanine that puts you in this state. More on that later in the article.
Made using ground-up green tea leaves, Matcha tea powder has been utilized for thousands of years for creating tea-based beverages where the entire tea leaf starts dissolving in the hot water. This is unlike most tea drinks, which usually involve leaves getting soaked in warm water.
However, people have come up with many more productive and innovative methods to enhance the taste of their beverages. They have found ways to integrate it with a number of different delicious and sweet recipes for foods and beverages.
Throughout this article, we’ll take a look at Matcha’s history and evolution and its usage over the last few centuries. We will also cover the various health benefits of Matcha that it purportedly offers.
History of Matcha Tea
During the Song Dynasty in China (960–1279), people started developing and consuming powdered tea, which suddenly had become extremely popular because the benefits of Matcha had become immediately recognized.
They would make tea bricks, break off little pieces from them, and mix these pieces called “tea cakes” with hot water for making drinking tea.
People made these tea cakes by steaming tea leaves at first. This process helps preserve their freshness and color. A paste or mud was formed by subsequently drying these steamed tea leaves, which were ground into powder form.
They were then molded to make cakes that were hardened by repeat exposure to sunlight. They were eventually baked and sold.
Tea cakes happened to be incredibly simple to produce, store & transport. It was during this period that Japanese Zen monks came to China and learned about powdered teas.
They started exporting these cakes and seeds to their homeland, for growing and consuming tea in Japan.
Before long, Zen priests started their tea traditions. They developed systems and processes for cultivating and processing powdered tea.
One Zen priest, known as Eisai, is believed to be the man behind the introduction of Matcha Tea to the Japanese people during the 11th Century.
Over time, Matcha transformed into Japan’s favorite tea. It is now the only tea variant that is used during customary tea parties and ceremonies.
Called Sadō, or “the way of tea,” this traditional Japanese ceremony became popular due to its usage by members of the royal family, Japan’s upper class, and Samurai society.
Japanese Zen monks produced this version during the early 15th Century. It is based on four guiding principles: tranquility, respect, harmony, and purity.
While other green tea variants are grown in various places around the globe, Matcha tea powder happens to be cultivated solely in Japan. Farmers use traditional sourcing, farming, and grinding methods to grow this tea.
As springtime harvesting season draws to an end, bamboo mats are used for covering tea plants, which limits the amount of sunlight that affects them.
This decreased sunlight raises the chlorophyll content of the plants. It also enhances the tea leaves’ dark green colors and the tea powder’s bright spring green color.
Although it increases their potency, covering the plants also tends to weaken them. As a result, they need additional recovery time before they can be harvested again.
Note that Japan is an incredibly small nation. Therefore, it doesn’t have much land where it can grow and farm tea leaves.
They export only around 1% of the tea they manufacture due to the high demand from domestic consumers.
Due to this, traditional Matcha tea powder tends to be much more expensive compared to other green tea products and green teas.
Matcha Tea Grades
After the farmers complete harvesting these tea plants, they steam & then air-dry the leaves.
These leaves get sorted further into two groups – The more robust, firmer, larger bottom leaves are used for making ingredient-grade tea whereas the top, younger, softer, and smaller leaves get used for making Premium Matcha Tea Powder.
The plant’s leaves are deveined, and their stems get removed to produce Tencha. This is a preliminary form of Matcha.
Although Tencha leaves usually get ground for making Matcha, these harvested leaves may also be used for making green tea powder.
Tencha happens to be a unique and distinctive form of green tea. A tea plant’s first flush, which has been maintained in a shaded zone, is harvested, after which it gets steamed.
However, the premium version is not rolled immediately. On the other hand, the most widely available green tea variant is heated & rolled quickly after the leaves get harvested.
Top-quality Matcha powder is made by grinding them in stone mills, which produces a very fine powder that has a granular form.
Matcha leaves are usually utilized to make tea. The powder’s consistency plays a crucial role in determining the final feel and taste of the beverage.
People use machines for grinding the leaves properly and produce ingredient-grade or industrial-grade Matcha.
Although it will suffice for typical baking and cooking recipes, it will have an entirely different feel and taste if you consume it as a beverage.
Tea-grade Matcha can be separated into two categories: thick and thin.
While people may mistake them at first to refer to the liquid’s texture, they refer to the style and character of the Matcha tea.
You need to maintain a stirring, slower motion for preparing this tea, and it doesn’t produce any foamy froth.
On the other hand, Usucha is thin Matcha. It is made using 2-3 oz. of water & has less tea content (around half a teaspoon). The appearance of foamy froth depends on other factors.
Koicha happens to be preferred in traditional tea ceremonies since it has a sweeter, milder flavor compared to Usucha. It is made using more expensive leaves from old and potent tea trees.
Health Benefits Of Matcha
Matcha tea has long been considered to be a potent health elixir beverage for the last 900 years. The health benefits of Matcha have all been studied extensively by leading universities.
The reason behind its superpowers and amazing benefits is simple – it has an incredible number of antioxidants present in it.
As per recent reports regarding antioxidants, this tea contains 10x times more nutrients compared to traditional green tea. Due to its many benefits, it is among the world’s most potent superfoods.
To understand the benefits of Matcha, you must know why antioxidants are important for increasing the vitality of your body.
You must also learn about their impact on your health and understand how adding it to your daily life can help you lead a healthier life.
Matcha Tea Contains A Ton of Powerful Antioxidants
You must have heard about antioxidants if you’ve ever engaged in discussions regarding disease prevention, good health, and anti-aging with your peers.
One of the best health benefits of Matcha are these powerful enzymes, polyphenols, and vitamins are usually found in plant-based foods like herbs, vegetables, and raw fruits.
When you consume antioxidants regularly, you can prevent and prohibit oxidation from taking place in your body, thus minimizing the impact of free radicals.
Antioxidants are crucial if you want to enjoy good health since unchallenged free radicals may place you at risk of contracting chronic diseases and degenerative illnesses.
Free radicals happen to be by-products, which are created by our body naturally when it processes the food that we consume.
However, when we are overexposed to UV rays, synthetics, radiation pollutants, pesticides, and other environmental toxins, the number of free radicals circulating in our body tends to rise rapidly.
Even stress is capable of increasing free radical production in your body’s cells.
While the antioxidants generated by our body are capable of counteracting the damage caused by free radicals, they are seldom enough to counteract them entirely.
This is because the number of free radicals that are produced either due to environmental stressors or natural causes tends to outnumber natural antioxidants generated by the body.
To retain a favorable ratio of free radicals to antioxidants and for deriving maximum benefits from antioxidants, it is important to keep consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants can increase your energy levels, prevent chronic disease, promote fresher and healthier skin, and slow down aging processes in your body.
You can use the Antioxidant Counter, which provides an in-depth overview of antioxidants, for learning more about their advantages. You can also learn how the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale works as well.
This scale can give you an idea about antioxidant concentration levels in many beverages and conventional foods.
One matched green teacup can provide you more than 5x times the number of antioxidants that are contained in the same quantity of food.
Matcha Tea Is The Highest-Rated Food By The ORAC Scale
It has been proven that this tea can achieve a score of around 1384 units on this ORAC scale.
The tea contains about 5,5x times, 6.1x times, higher antioxidant levels when compared to goji berries, dark chocolate, respectively.
These tea leaves also contain antioxidants and natural polyphenols in sufficient levels.
A recent study that assessed Matcha tea’s antioxidant powers discovered that it had the highest concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant that can provide many health benefits.
It is a catechin, which can be obtained from superfoods such as blackberries, cacao, and green tea.
Since it has a denser catechin concentration compared to other superfoods, the benefits of Matcha tea are widely hailed for providing many fantastic essential advantages for regular consumers.
Among all the antioxidants, EGCG happens to be far more potent compared to Vitamin E or C. They assist your body’s vitamins in executing their duties.
Matcha also contains polyphenols and catechins that are 100x far more potent compared to Vitamin C & 25x times far more potent compared to Vitamin E, as per research out of the University of Kansas.
Match also contains a number of vital nutrients. Apart from catechins, this green tea also contains chlorophyll, Vitamins K, E, C, A, and B-Complex, along with other polyphenols and trace minerals. It has amino acids like theophylline and L-theanine as well.
Other benefits of Matcha’s is in its nutrient properties that have been shown to have numerous positive benefits that keep your body in great shape.
These essential benefits of Matcha include enhanced sleep quality, more energy, enhanced cardiovascular health, and a strong immune system.
Here, we’ll be exploring each of the benefits of Matcha in a detailed manner, which can help you understand its benefits better and convince you to start consuming it on a daily basis.
As Matcha tea contains a high concentration of catechins, that’s a great place to start evaluating the benefits of Matcha.
Matcha Tea May Prevent Cancer
Researchers and scientists discovered that the catechins present in Matcha (like EC, ECG, EGC, and EGCG) could help defend your body against cancer.
The NCI has this to say about Matcha after conducting extensive research into their properties:
- Green tea constituents like ECG and EGCG are capable of eliminating free-radicals to a great extent. Experiments conducted on them in laboratory settings show that they are capable of protecting your cells against free-radicals and their damage to your DNA.
- The study found that tea polyphenols could inhibit tumor cell development & induce the death of cancer cells or apoptosis in laboratory experiments and animal studies.
- Green tea also contains several catechins, which can activate your detoxification enzymes like quinone reductase, glutathione, and the S-transferase family. This could help you prevent tumor growth one day.
- New research has shown that apart from protecting your against UVB or ultraviolet radiation, you could also improve your body’s immune system. Every Matcha cup is just brimming with anti-cancer agents.
Matcha Fights Bacteria, Viruses, And Fungi
Just like most antioxidants, EGCG is a form of catechin that can provide you with several potent healing properties. These catechins are useful for fighting against fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.
Research shows that EPCG inhibits the growth of numerous and crucial human pathogens. This includes Candida Albicans yeast, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, adenovirus, Hep-B and C as well.
Matcha Boosts Immunity
EGCG catechins are even capable of boosting your immune system’s abilities. One single Matcha teacup is enough for you to receive your daily dose of enzymes, calcium, iron, Vitamin C and A, and potassium.
Additionally, new studies have shown that Matcha’s EGCG catechin content may even be capable of preventing HIV viruses from attacking the T Cells in a human being.
Similarly, you should also note that consuming Matcha can help protect your brain from further damage if you’re suffering from HIV.
EGCG is capable of penetrating the brain-blood barriers – something that even commercially available synthetic antiretroviral drugs are incapable of doing.
Healthy Heart and Blood Glucose Levels
Matcha can help you maintain your sugar levels, metabolism rate, and heart health, even if you’re suffering from cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
Matcha Tea contains high levels of EGCGs, which are capable of reducing hepatic sugar content, total cholesterol, and triglyceride content in people with diabetes.
Some studies that cover various populations have shown that participants who consume Matcha tea regularly have lower LDL rates and higher HDL rates.
A 2011 research study showed that when participants were asked to consume green tea extracts or beverages, they reported a significant lowering in their serum total cholesterol.
This means that their cholesterol levels were low in their liver and plasma, along with low levels of LDL.
Matcha tea extracts have been used for centuries now for ensuring your mind stays alert even when the body is relaxed and calm. You can enhance your energy levels without needing to resort to normal caffeine.
The caffeine contained in Matcha is relatively harmless compared to regular coffee beverages.
This different type of caffeine, called theine, is obtained from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. About a half teaspoon of powdered Matcha has approximately 35 milligrams of caffeine, which is much less than coffee, which has 80 to 150 milligrams.
Since it contains a healthy number of phytonutrients, Matcha’s caffeine content can be assimilated in a manner that’s much healthier compared to coffee.
Matcha’s caffeine content tends to get attached to catechin molecules circulating throughout the body and gets released over some time, during which catechins are absorbed or broken down.
Since this release is done in a staggered manner, your adrenal glands won’t face any problems and can continue maintaining the same level of hormones.
Cortisol levels also go down as a result of this. You will have between 3-4 hours of sustained energy.
This mechanism can also help prevent cortisol and insulin spikes that are often seen among avid coffee consumers. However, there is no ‘crash’ they go through here since there is no fall in sugar levels.
Matcha Detoxifies The Body
Matcha plants are placed in a shaded sunlight zone for around 3-4 weeks before being harvested. As a result, their leaves experience a significant spike in chlorophyll content.
Chlorophyll happens to be a great cleanser, which is capable of detoxifying cells in your body and retain your tissues and blood at a natural alkaline level.
Also, the Camellia sinensis found in Matcha is capable of removing heavy metals and chemical toxins from your body.
If you are trying to lose weight and boost your metabolic rate, Matcha’s high catechin concentration can come in handy for this purpose.
A study that was published July 30, 2014, in the EJCN, showed that catechin-rich green tea extract may have an anti-obesity effect via thermogenesis abilities and may promote fat loss by fat oxidation and fecal lipid excretion.
Matcha May Reduce Anxiety
In a very recent study, published July 9, 2019, an anxiety test was done on a mouse with the use of a maze test.
The results of this study showed that Matcha reduced anxiety levels by activating dopamine and serotonin receptors found in the brain.
Further studies need to be done on humans, but this looks like another one of the health benefits of Matcha that may be added to this amazing powder.
Memory and Concentration Boost
For more than a thousand years, Japanese Zen monks have been using Matcha tea for relaxation and meditation and for remaining in a heightened state of alertness simultaneously. As mentioned earlier, it is an “Alert Relaxation” state.
Another one of the amazing benefits of Matcha is that this heightened, advanced state is because of L-theanine, an amino acid that is found in abundance in Matcha. It is also the most essential amino acid present in green tea.
L-theanine is capable of improving alpha wave production within the brain, a process that inhibits neuron excitation & produces a more relaxed and happier state of mind.
Clinical research studies have proven L-theanine is capable of promoting the generation of antioxidants in the brain, lower PMS symptoms, enhance your focus and memory abilities, lower BP levels, and lowering your stress levels.
L-theanine also increases your natural serotonin and dopamine production. These two neurotransmitters can help promote increased concentration, improve memory, and enhance your mood.
How To Use Matcha
Standard teas are prepared by boiling tea leaves in water. The leaves’ nutritional benefits get passed on to the warm water.
Matcha tea leaves get ground up in stone mills for producing a very fine powder, which dissolves in warm or hot water.
When you consume all the leaves you’ve dissolved into the water, you are absorbing all the nutritional benefits into yourself at a 10x times higher rate.
Yep, one matcha teacup is equivalent to 10 green teacups if you want to compare them based on the nutrients they contain.
Although Matcha powder is highly popular at the moment, people started consuming tea that was prepared from powders, centuries ago.
Matcha tea was initially introduced to Japan by China towards the 12th Century. However, even before that, people who lived during the Tang Dynasty used to prepare tea using a tea powder, which was made using tea leaves, which were roasted, steam, made into bricks, and pulverized.
Over 300 years later, China’s Song Dynasty brought this practice into the mainstream and created a method that is incredibly similar to our tea-making ritual in today’s world.
Making & consuming tea powder was started by Chinese Zen Buddhists. They brought this methodology and the Matcha tea to Japan from China in 1191.
Matcha tea’s abundant antioxidant content is the reason why this powder is also so healthy.
But it is worth noting that these antioxidants may lose their potency if you don’t account for their delicate constitution while preparing food.
Although Matcha tea happens to be an amazingly healthy ingredient, it’s not going to “healthify” every dish that it is added to.
There are several other variables like cooking times, temperatures, and other essential components, which must be considered to maintain and honor the green tea powder’s health.
A study of antioxidant content found in various cooked vegetables discovered that cooking might result in some antioxidants reducing in concentration.
Another study analyzed the antioxidant content found in substances like red peppers & studied how boiling, steaming, roasting, and stir-frying impacted antioxidant levels.
This study discovered that some cooking methods lead to a fall in antioxidant concentrations in the body. Boiling is the most harmful cooking method since it destroys the most antioxidants compared to all other cooking methods.
Stir-frying shows the least amount of impact since antioxidant levels are more or less the same after the food has been stir-fried.
How can we link these findings to our very own Matcha powder? There have not been any studies that have accurately analyzed the effect of cooking times and temperature on this powder.
Therefore, to be on the safe side it should be assumed that Matcha Tea powder’s antioxidant properties react just like vegetables do when they are placed in a similar condition.
Another critical variable, which can impede or boost Matcha tea’s nutritional abilities is the usage of other food ingredients.
A few ingredients are incredibly terrible, and it would do well to stay clear of them if you’re trying to gain nutritional benefits from Matcha tea. For instance, don’t consume matcha tea with sugar.
Irrespective of the health claims that people might make about particular foods, it needs to have a bigger nutritional goal and be prepared accordingly for people to reap the maximum benefits of Matcha.
It is not plausible to think that all dishes can be improved by just including Matcha tea powder in it!
That isn’t how healing and health work! You have to adhere to some basic rules, including this cardinal one: Consume only whole, real foods or foods prepared using whole, real foods. Consume heart-supporting, brain-building, healthy fats, and plants as much as you can, and you’ll never regret it!
After reading this article, have you made up your mind whether the benefits of Matcha tea are worth your time and money? If you are still skeptical about Matcha tea, please take a look at this comparison:
Top Antioxidants Foods
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) It is used for measuring the antioxidant capacity of food.
ORAC units per gram:
- Acai Berries-60
- Apples- 3
- Asparagus -31
- Black Plums-74
- Blueberries (wild)-93
- Black eye peas-44
- Dark Chocolate-227
- Red Cabbage-32
- MATCHA TEA-1384
It shows that Matcha Tea is way above the rest. A powerful antioxidant is an UNDERSTATEMENT.
The health benefits of Matcha tea simply cannot be disputed.